Something that my art professor of many years used to always remind us of was that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This saying gets thrown out a lot, particularly in the art world. When walking into any art museum, we see how people are moved by different pieces. Not all of the pieces necessarily speak to everyone, and not everyone responds the same way to a particular art piece.
When we walked into the Tate Modern museum, the point of this quote was proved once again. Everyone wanders around to look more closely at the art piece that caught their attention from really far back. Not everyone goes after the same art piece. In my case, the following two artworks inquired my curiosity.
The first piece that caught my attention came from the surrealist area in the museum. The artist, Ibrahim El-salahi titles his work “Release Sounds of Childhood Dreams.” The work caught my attention because it looked very futuristic and the figures reminded me of robots at first. It also spoke to me because it was like nothing that I had seen before that was considered surrealistic. I’m more used to relating surrealism with bright colors and juxtaposed objects as is the case in Kahlo, Dali, and Magritte’s paintings. The painting confused me for a moment. It looked more like it belonged in an abstract exhibit, next to a Kandinsky or even under Futurism, such as Balla’s paintings. I decided to examine the painting more closely in order to figure out why it would be considered surreal.
Upon close examination of the painting and the title altogether, I thought the art piece reminded me more of childhood nightmares than it did of childhood dreams as the artist puts it. It has a very obscure tone to it, probably due to the dark palette used for the figures that are juxtaposed on a creamy background. The figures reminded me of the monsters that little ones are scared of –the monsters under our beds, the monsters in our closets. Probably I was staring at the painting for too long that I started to make out faces from these figures.
Overall, although I really liked this piece because of the array of emotions that I experienced looking at it, I still feel that it didn't belong under the surrealist exhibit. In my opinion, it felt more abstract than anything else.
The next painting that captured my attention was “From Line” by artist Lee Ufan. Since I declare myself a Rothko fan, I think this piece spoke to me because it reminded me of Rothko’s minimalism. However, Rothko’s paintings are more somber in tone, but this piece does the total opposite for me. It’s tranquil to look at, and the hues reminded me of the beach. The blue lines offer a gradient throughout the painting that reminded me of how the water and the sand meet. I think this interpretation has a lot to do with how me and some of my classmates come from a city known for its beaches. The painting might be simple in composition, yet it is complex in the ways that people can interpret it.
When it comes to interpreting art paintings, any interpretation is completely acceptable because all of our different experiences shape how we look at an art piece. This is why we say that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” because our definition of the beauty in a painting might differ from the definition that someone else has.